National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts told ESPN the Magazine that she rejects the notion of a salary cap and believes that the league’s players should be getting a 50-50 split of all basketball-related income.
Roberts, who was named NBPA chief in July, is the first woman sports union director in the four major North American sports.
She didn't have kind words to say about the NBA owners, either.
"Why don't we have the owners play half the games?" Roberts said. "There would be no money if not for the players. Let's call it what it is. There. Would. Be. No. Money. Thirty more owners can come in, and nothing will change. These guys go? The game will change. So let's stop pretending."
Roberts says no other industry puts a cap on what their employees make. She said she doesn’t like the idea of maximum contracts or having a rookie wage scale. The salary cap has been in place in the NBA for 30 years.
"It's incredibly un-American. My DNA is offended by it,” Roberts said.
The salary cap is expected to increase significantly following the 2015-16 season, after the NBA agreed to a new nine-year, $24 billion television deal. That deal will be in place for the 2016-17 season.
Roberts also took issue with the league’s minimum age limit, again saying she doesn’t understand why players can’t enter the league when they turn 18 years old. NBA rules stipulate that for any players to become eligible to sign a contract or play in the league, they must be “at least 19 years of age during the calendar year in which the Draft.”
“It doesn't make sense to me that you're suddenly eligible and ready to make money when you're 20, but not when you're 19, not when you're 18," she said. "I suspect that the association will agree that this is not going to be one that they will agree to easily."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he would be in favor of raising the age limit to 20 believing it would be better for the league.
“I think that the extra year in college will be a benefit for these young men to grow and develop as people and basketball players,” Silver told USA Today this spring.
- Scooby Axson